The Toronto Maple Leafs secured two big points last night in a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in their first game under new coach Randy Carlyle, who was hired as head coach on Friday after former coach Ron Wilson was fired. Unfortunately for the Leafs, Tampa Bay and Buffalo also won, giving each of them the edge over the Maple Leafs in the standings. The Leafs currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference with 67 points. Buffalo (68 points), Tampa Bay (68 points) and Washington (69 points) all stand between the Leafs and the 8th place Winnipeg Jets, who have 70 points on the season. Washington has a game in hand on Toronto, Tampa Bay and Buffalo, who have all played 65 games, and two in hand on Winnipeg, who has played 66.
Mikhail Grabovski snapped a 14-game goal drought by netting two for the Leafs, including the game winner on a snap shot from the slot off of a nifty little behind-the-back pass from Clarke McArthur mid-way through the third period, snapping the 1-1 tie. Toronto caught Montreal on a line change, allowing Grabovski to basically get into the slot uncontested with time to fire off the quick snapshot and beat Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
Grabovski added his second goal of the night on a power-play in the waning minutes of the game, securing the victory, and two very important points, for the Leafs. Grabovski now has 20 goals on the season and is third on the team with 45 points. The Leafs now have three players with 20 or more goals on the season with a fourth, McArthur, only one shy.
Check out a video of McArthur’s dirty pass and Grabovski’s game-winning goal below:
The Maple Leafs face a very challenging schedule over the next week with back-to-back games against Boston and Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Wednesday and then another set of back-to-back games against Philadelphia and Washington Saturday and Sunday. Each of those teams ranks above Toronto in the standings, although the Washington matchup could provide the two most important points of the week as the Leafs look to gain ground on the Capitals in their run for the postseason. The Leafs will meet the Lightning and Sabres two more times a piece before the end of the season as well.